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Super Bowl Sunday means different things to different people - For some it's the thrill of the game, while for others it's a chance to see some fun commercials and maybe, their favorite star at the half-time show. Then there are those that simply view the day as an excuse to have a party and gorge on junk food.
For those in that last category, there is a cuter alternative - The Puppy Bowl! Now celebrating it's tenth year, the program came about as whim in 2005, when the Animal Planet Channel's programming team was brainstorming about how to compete with Super Bowl. As a lark, someone suggested pointing a camera at some puppies on a football field. Somehow, the idea caught the fancy of everyone in the room. After all, who doesn't like watching cute puppies frolicking around? Of course the fact that the program would cost very little to produce, did not hurt either.
The first Puppy Bowl was filmed in a studio in Silver Spring, Maryland and featured two teams of cute puppies picked from rescue shelters. The dogs were placed inside a scaled-down football field, filled with tempting chew-toys and let loose to play 'ball'. Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster, Harry Kalas, gave a running commentary of the game, while a referee ensured that the teams played according to the rules, which of course are a little simpler than those imposed by the NFL.
The young dogs are encouraged to tackle and bite on toys and bones, and a touchdown is declared every time they manage to drag a ball-shaped toy to the end zone. Any dog caught relieving itself on the field, is charged with a penalty and time outs are called whenever the water bowl runs dry.
To say that the parody of the big game was a success, is an understatement - Over 5.58 million people tuned in to watch! Puppy Bowl was here to stay! Over the years, Animal Planet has added many fun features to keep the audience entertained. While dogs from rescue shelters are still the stars, the show now also features Pepper the parrot singing the national anthem and young kittens that keep the audience mesmerized with a half-time performance that features bright lights, laser pens and yarn.
Puppy Bowl's popularity had grown tremendously, with over 12.4 million viewers tuning in last year. And while it is nowhere close to the 108 million that viewed the Super Bowl, it is more than those that watched college football's Cotton Bowl, and just a tad less than those that tuned in for the NFL Pro Bowl. Not surprisingly, it has resulted in many copycats - This year, the Hallmark Channel plans to debut the Kitty Bowl while National Geographic Wild plans to draw in viewers with Fish Bowl!
As for what you can expect from the 10th Puppy Bowl? Filmed last October on a giant sound stage in New York City, it will feature not just the dogs, but also, a parade of penguins. Even more exciting is the halftime show that stars Internet sensation Keyboard Cat - Watch out Bruno Mars!
Resources: rollingston.com,wikipedia.org, animaldiscovery.com